School struck by level crossing tragedy helps create rail safety film

The school attended by Olivia Bazlinton and Charlie Thompson, who were killed at a level crossing in Elsenham in 2005, has worked with Network Rail to create a new safety film to help raise awareness of the dangers at level crossings and how to stay safe.

Pupils at the Joyce Frankland Academy in Newport, Saffron Walden, provided their views during the production, which helped to shape the final film. Scenes were filmed on the school’s premises with pupils acting as extras while actors took the lead roles.

The film has been created with the support of Tina Hughes MBE, mother of Olivia Bazlinton, who works with Network Rail as a level crossing user champion. After the film, she gives an interview highlighting its importance.

Tina Hughes commented:

“I wanted to help Network Rail make young people understand and feel the awful impact experienced by the friends and family of a person who loses their life at a level crossing. I was never able to see or hold my daughter to say goodbye and I don’t want anyone else to go through that experience.”

The five minute film opens with a group of school friends outside school, ribbing our hero “Sam” who has been talking to a girl. It cuts to the scene of a tragedy. There has been an accident at a level crossing and the emergency services and Network Rail staff are busy at work, observed by Sam. News is broken to his parents and at an assembly at school, all watched by Sam. What has happened?

Sam watches his friend at a shrine by the level crossing. Crying, the friend places a picture of Sam in the shrine. It becomes clear – Sam is a ghost. A train rushes past on the tracks between Sam and his friend. When the train is gone, so is Sam.

Richard Schofield, route managing director at Network Rail, said:

“We wanted to create a film that would resonate with young people and make them realise that level crossings can be dangerous places.

“We hope that everyone who sees this film will be able to put themselves in the character’s shoes and realise that it is not worth taking a risk at a level crossing. Our thanks to Tina Hughes and the Joyce Frankland Academy for helping us to spread a really important message to young people across Britain.”

He added:

“Where possible we will close level crossings and we’ve closed more than 100 in the past five years. If we can’t close them, we will make them safer.”

Gordon Farquhar, Principal at the Joyce Frankland Academy, said:

“The deaths of Olivia and Charlotte were one of the most devastating events in our school’s history and as a consequence our pupils feel strongly about level crossing safety. We were all keen to be able to contribute in a lasting way to a safety message that might help keep people alive.”

This film is aimed a young people aged 12 and above and will be distributed to schools across the country through Network Rail’s community safety managers.